The Rouses Puma–an actual, unedited photo captured by a local wildlife photographer who dabbles as a ranter/raver.
Several years ago, someone in the Facebook group Zachary’s Rants and Raves (not to be confused with Zachary’s Rants & Raves or Zachary Rants and Raves UNCENSORED, the latter of which prompted this *rousing* piece of investigative journalism) claimed that they saw a puma in the parking lot at Rouses Market on Church Street.
Because of the nature of the group, the claim was met with a mix of skepticism, sarcasm, derision, and hysteria. Despite no further evidence that the Rouses Puma ever existed, he has become the answer to many a community question.
Why is the helicopter circling around Old Scenic? Puma
What was that thing on 964 not far from Copper Mill? Puma
Why don’t you just go to Rouses to get sliced cheese if Winn-Dixie is sold out? Puma
Now for the facts.
Is there *really* a puma wandering loose in Zachary, terrorizing Rouses shoppers? Not unless he’s an escaped pet. If you want to see a wild puma, you’ll have to go to Texas. Here’s a helpful map showing their distribution.
As you can see, they all wind up getting drawn into the hipster vortex of Austin and can’t move any further East.
There are some extremely rare cases of puma’s getting disoriented and crossing the Texan/Cajun border, but they never get very far into the state. Meanwhile, the big-cat type of Louisiana Cougar has been extinct since the early 1900’s. Like the puma, a very thirsty cougar might occasionally wander over from Texas, but if that happens, he won’t be scavenging for king cake in the Rouses’ dumpster. The other kind of thirsty cougar is, of course, alive and well here in Zachary and beyond.
And tigers? Well, aside from Mike, they also aren’t calling Louisiana home.
But what about black panthers? Everyone knows we have black panthers in Louisiana, right? Again, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but no. Florida Panthers’ range once included Louisiana, but now they’re rare even in Florida.
I know this has all been very disappointing, but don’t despair! There is ONE native wild cat in Louisiana.
I know you want to pet the bobcat. Look at that floof! He looks so soft! Unfortunately, they are NOT your household BFF. They’re capable of taking down animals over twice their size, and they are expert hunters. If you come across one, just leave it alone. They’re great for keeping pests under control and play an important part in our ecosystem.
So, who knows, maybe the Rouses Puma was really a particularly large bobcat. If so, just know he’s probably not hanging around the grocery store any more. Bobcats have a territory range of 10 miles and, like your most aloof household cat, they really don’t like humans.
by Lauren Pope